the wind-up bird chronicle by h murakami

It must have been my recent trip to Japan that encouraged me to pick up this book. I’m not sure if it was the translation getting in the way but the book was occasionally baffling and frequently meandering. It’s a 600+pg book and it took me awhile to get through the chapters. However, I must admit that the dream-like and compelling concepts of the book were genius. I was also able to distinguish many of the places that were mentioned throughout the book around Japan.

The title refers to an unusual, imaginative bird whose cry is a recurring harbinger of evil. The protagonist of the story, Toru Okada, is a man in his early 30’s who goes through a little bit of a pre-mid life crisis. He is unemployed, has no passion for his future and ultimately fails to keep his marriage together. When his wife (and the family cat) disappears one afternoon, he sets out for an emotional, philosophical and physical journey to trace her whereabouts. As his story unfolds, he embarks upon various dream-like situations. He meets a psychic prostitute who whores through people’s minds, a high-school dropout who obsesses over death, and legendary Japanese citizens. The distinction between Toru’s reality and his dreams become less and less clear as the story goes on.

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is probably not your best choice for a beach-read; its uneven literary design lacks to keep readers captivated. However, Murakami’s lack of finesse is more than compensated by the brilliance of his invention. The book definitely makes you think boldly & creatively… Murakami invites you to his side of the world- to places where you would’ve never imagined of going.

dee’s recommendation: 3/5

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